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Libyans Come Out in Numbers to Celebrate Ceasefire

When shots were heard in Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square Sunday evening, a few protesters scattered. Others cheered, arms aloft, shouting, “Libya! Libya!” It was the first protest of its kind in the city in at least five years, coming only two days after a cease-fire agreement formally ended a more than yearlong conflict that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands. “We just want simple basic services,” said protester Ahmed Bin Shaaban, 24.  “Electricity cuts out for 15 to 20 hours a day… and medicine and food go bad. … When I go to the bank to pick up my salary, they say ‘We have no cash.’”  The protest was planned online for the anniversary of the day rebel forces stormed into Tripoli in 2011, forcing Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 40 years, to flee. He was later executed by rebels.  Since then, Libya has been embroiled in political conflicts and a series of civil wars. Last year, crowds gathered weekly and sometimes daily in Tripoli to protest the assault on the city, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his eastern military. In June, the siege on Tripoli ended, and Haftar’s forces retreated after more than a year of violence.